Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kinda' Suits Me Anyway

I've been thinking over some recent conversations with women friends a decade younger than me, all  having physical problems - knee injuries, intense leg cramps, joint pain, rotator cuff injuries, difficulty sleeping- you name it, someone has it. As did I at that time in my life. Can you remember when you began to make grunting noises getting out of a chair? Were you 55? 50? Perhaps even 45?

When it is no longer possible to youthfully ignore increasingly painful and demanding complaints,  we begin trying to right the wrongs of a half-century of disregard, begin to pay the homage demanded by the body that has taken us hostage, and start paying attention to it. I had almost forgotten the extreme frustration I felt, not with the aches and pains but with the time it took to address them, the trail and error experimentation, the constant scanning for improvement - or not - embedded in what seemed vast periods of required activity aimed at effecting change. This pissed me off.

Which is why I was delighted to read Chuck Nyren's Huffington Post piece on "mindfulness," The Path to Bodily Enlightenment, recommended by one of my favorite bloggers at Time Goes By.  I am interested in how we focus and so have read a lot about mindfulness, although in my own definition it is a slippery concept. Perhaps it is most like my full-frontal-focus, except that it seems to be a more passive version. Never mind. After Chuck's explanation, it fits better into my overall Simple Elegance paradigm, where some things are just easier because we are experienced and confident enough to believe it.

"In my younger days how ignorant I was! I’d just go about my life, paying no attention to the body unless it needed something (food or use your imagination). I was barely aware of its existence except if I stubbed my toe or banged my head. If I sprained an ankle, it hurt. In a few days it was all better.

Fast forward forty years. Nowadays, all my attention is taken up by internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment! Life has never been more all-encompassing. My entire body and all its parts continually radiate awareness!

Example: those knees. . .never was I really aware of them. Now, I’m so happy to report, I’m aware of them all the time! They’re glowing beacons of enlightenment. And let me not leave out my feet, hands, shoulders, elbows. All glimmering, coruscating corporeality!"

I am happy to discover that I practice mindfulness along with the rest of my generation, ready or not:) That the new habits are indeed now habits, and I am not so grudging as I was. I also hurt less. If you are paying attention, you sense the pain train early and can often intervene to derail or at least neutralize it. Maybe take a little prophylactic aspirin before you go wildly weeding; resist wearing those siren red heels; remove the kitchen sink from your purse.

You aren't 40 any more.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Faster You Go, the Rounder You Got

I still do it.

Honest, I go to great lengths to avoid it, tortuously scheduling ahead to spread the impact of Spring's busyness, doggedly inserting recovery days that disappear into rationalizations on the ground, and still May comes for me like Wellington at Waterloo.

Yardwork, Birthdays, Mother's Day, Anniversary: tinker, tailor, soldier, damn! Home renovation that slipped over the April line (imagine that!), unexpected visitors (who we love), rain rain rain and no chance to garden (front yard has yet to be mowed), and lovely grandchildren for a very long weekend.  I rode the current like a fast merry-go-round, blurred and squealing, enjoying the ride. And I forgot everything else.

One of the most important lessons I have learned is that as I get older, I need to pace myself. I do try, really, but sometimes it is impossible not to be swept up into the fray. Especially for me, since I always did love it, the intensity required, the focus demanded, the rush in fact. BIG rush. Those were the days.

Now, in my late 60s, I am impressed with myself for getting through the last month without dissolving into a puddle, and impressed with Silver Fox for keeping up. It is satisfying to know that when called upon, we can still respond. But at what expense?

Instead of joyously riding that merry-go-round to a standstill, this year I just fell off. It is taking days to pick myself up off the ground, much less to assess the damage - scraps of good intentions laying all over the place, a snowstorm of things to have done. When was my last yoga workout? OMG it has been a week since I looked at the business email! Oops, three checks in my wallet dated from mid-April to deposit. Why did I want to be up so early today? What is this list? 

I am gathering up those scraps one by one and will pack them all back to my quiet desk where, when I can sit and look at them, I might be able to make sense of where I was before all the the fracas. Frankly,  I don't remember. The term "punch-drunk" comes to mind:)

Heh heh heh . . .